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Where do you draw the line between love and hate?

article-new_ehow_images_a08_7b_av_disadvantages-bad-attitude-employees-800x800[1]As customer service professionals, we’re trained to love our customers. But, do you know what to do if you hate your coworkers?

Recently, I was leading a series of customer service workshops, where one recurring theme kept popping up: What should I do if I work with people who are not team players and who cause low morale?

One young lady said she had tried everything, and nothing ever changed. I asked if she had confronted her colleague, and she said yes. I asked if she had told her boss, and she said yes. So I proceeded to tell her that if this problem was really an issue, she needed to be persistent in her communication with her boss. She needed to explain WHY this person’s behavior was so detrimental to the team. For example, she could say it affected team morale, which affected how they treated patients, which affected their surveys, which affected their bonuses – you get the idea. Then I said, “If it’s so bad, you might want to look for a new job.” To which she replied, “Oh no, it’s not that bad!”

This brings us to another point: You will not like everyone you work with. Just like you will not like every human being you meet throughout your entire lifetime. But, theoretically, how should we treat people? Most of you will answer emphatically “With respect!” To me, how we treat others goes back to my mother’s advice when I was a child. “Barbara, fill them with kindness.” And I like that attitude because here’s how it works. You don’t have to like me, and I don’t have to like you. You don’t have to agree with me, and I don’t have to agree with you. BUT, I can absolutely be kind and respectful to you. And that’s a very powerful attitude, isn’t it? This attitude rids a lot of negativity and focuses more on the positive.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

When someone you work with has a BAD attitude:

1. Ignore them – as if they didn’t say a word. But make sure this doesn’t interfere with your job responsibilities. You’re still part of a team, working together to provide a service.
2. Be overly positive. For example, if someone says, “I hate my job,” then you reply with, “Oh, really? I LOVE my job.” And say it with a huge and genuine smile.
3. If you are persistent with tip #2, negative coworkers will no longer come to you because you are NO FUN.
4. If they ask, “Who are you? Miss Happy Pants?” You reply with, “Yes, I am Miss Happy Pants. Why don’t you try them on?” Then, hand them a “Happy Pants” button (email me at to request a complimentary “Happy Pants” button).

Remember: We don’t have to like everyone, but we can certainly “fill them with kindness.”

Which tips do YOU use for dealing with people you Hate? Feel free to share your comments below.

Is Customer Service the New Marketing? The latest debate.

Is customer service the new marketing? This question isn’t just about the increasing importance of social media and customer reviews, or rising consumer disenchantment with traditional marketing. For some, it’s about making the decision between long-term reputation and short-term profit.

Click for complete article and Video

Click for complete article and Video

This topic was at the center of a recent Google+ Debate that Ashley Verrill moderated, hosted by research firm Software Advice. A panel of experts discussed what kinds of companies should embrace a customer-centric strategy as a form of marketing, and how they go about implementing this approach.

I will share with you the highlights of this event…

  The speakers included:

  •  Micah Solomon, a top keynote speaker, thought leader, bestselling author and consultant. His work has been featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Forbes, FastCompany, Inc. Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and The Washington Post, among others.
  • Jon Miller is the marketing vice president and cofounder of marketing automation vendor Marketo. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford          Graduate School of Business.
  • Shep Hyken is a customer experience expert, keynote speaker, author and chief amazement officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the public speaking industry.
  • Denis Pombriant is CEO and cofounder of the Beagle Research Group. He is a recognized thought leader, speaker and author.

Here’s a quick snapshot of their discussion.

The group first emphasized the importance of mirroring your customers’ expectations, rather than trying to dictate your brand to them. Customers won’t believe what you say about yourself unless it matches what their social networks also say about you. This can be amazing customer service, or it can be price, selection, or something else.

Next, they talked about breaking the bounds of marketing and customer service departments. Instead of feeling like you have to choose one or the other, leverage them together. Retweet an interesting customer service interaction on Twitter. Or get service agents to collaborate on buyer persona development. Be creative.

For companies that do want to implement a Zappos-level of customer service, you need to start at the top. Make the decision to put the customer at the center of your business, then reinforce the idea with process, resources and measurement.

Finally, the group said the most important thing marketers need to consider is that the buyer is in control of their buying process. You can’t decide what information they will go after, or when, so you still need to make your company as attractive as possible. Customer service is just a piece of that puzzle.

About Ashley Verrill: Ashley Verrill  is an analyst with Software Advice.She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

2012 Customer Service Survey Results

I found this article on the internet and thought I would pass it along. Feel free to leave your comments at the bottom.

The complete company rankings

Here’s a look at the methodology and full results of the MSN Money-JZ Analytics customer service survey for 2012.

Image: Thumb Down © Milton Montenegro-Getty Images

MSN Money asked JZ Analytics to conduct an online national survey in which 1,500 randomly chosen respondents rated customer service at 150 companies from 15 industries. The response choices were “excellent,” “good,” “fair,” “poor,” “I haven’t had an interaction with this company’s customer service” and “not sure.” The poll was conducted from June 15-18 and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

We used several criteria in choosing the companies, including those with the largest sales in such customer-facing industries as retail, hotels and restaurants. We also reviewed the lists from the previous five years to ensure that the survey would reflect how companies are doing over time. In addition, we went back over the comments we received from readers on previous surveys to make sure we hadn’t overlooked companies that were notorious for bad service but not quite large enough to make this year’s initial list. Then we revised the list to reflect name changes, ownership turnover and sales trends.

Once JZ Analytics compiled its results, we eliminated the responses “not familiar” and “not sure” from the tallies to focus attention on the responses from customers who were familiar with the companies and expressed opinions about them.

The final cut for our list eliminated companies that had fewer than 500 responses that met the aforementioned criteria. That level of response corresponds to what JZ Analytics considers a sample size with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. That left 101 ranked companies on the list below.

The 10 companies with the highest percentage of “poor” rankings became our Hall of Shame. Using the same methodology, the 10 with the highest percentage of “excellent” rankings became our Hall of Fame.

One trend that held from past years: Banking, credit card and cable companies continue to fill most slots in the Hall of Shame. Sorted by industry average, these three drew the highest percentages of “poor” ratings for customer service in our poll. Delivery, online and specialty retail drew the highest percentages of “excellent” ratings.

“What strikes me is that the same industries — banks, credit cards, cable — seem to show up in the hall of shame every year. Particularly financials. Is there something about these industries that causes that, perhaps (inconvenience or complexity) that it’s harder to walk away?” said John Zogby, JZ Analytics senior analyst and founder of the Zogby Poll. “Retail does fairly well, likely because if you have a bad experience, you just don’t go back.”

Here’s a look at the best and worst industries for customer service in our survey:

Hall of Shame industries % Poor
Credit card 16.3
Banking 16.2
Cable 16.2
Wireless/phone 15.8
Insurance 11.7
Hall of Shame industries % Excellent
Delivery 33.1
Online 29.6
Specialty retail 26.8
Computer 26.4
Big box 26.3

Click here for the complete list.

Which company (ies) have you experienced? Do you agree with these results? As always, your comments and feedback are welcome!

TIP 24: Give a Standard Answer to Every Problem.

Don’t waste your time trying to reinvent the wheel.

Negative Ned Says…

Ned with Both Hands Over His Ears

“Most of the time, I know the answer to a customer’s complaint about two seconds after he starts whining about it. I nod, look bored, and check my e-mail while he’s rattling on about the terrible service he received. When he’s finally done ranting and raving, I just give him the standard answer. I then add, ‘You want to buy this or not?’ You have only about five responses you can use. And you can’t treat this customer like he deserves special treatment, even though he seems to think he does.”

Positive Paul Says…

Positive Paul

“Customers want to experience being heard — even more so when they are irate. After they have vented, repeat what they’ve said, instead of getting defensive and taking it personally.

There are two benefits to repeating what they’ve said:

  1. You clarify that what you heard is what they actually said (and what they said is what they meant).
  2. Most people calm down when they realize you’ve heard them and understand their dilemma.

You can help your customers in several ways to know they’ve been heard, and some phrases work better than others. For example, ‘I understand how you feel’ usually does not work. Customers will usually respond by saying, ‘Oh, no you don’t!’ Another phrase that does not work is ‘I know.’

Phrases that work better are:

  1. “I want to make sure I got it right. You just said…”
  2. “So the problem is…”
  3. “To summarize the problem and to make sure we’re on the same page…”

When customers complain, it’s imperative that you thank them for reporting it. They could have easily not said a word and simply gone elsewhere. A complaint is an opportunity to turn an unsatisfied person into a loyal customer. It can also improve your customer service so it doesn’t happen again. Lucky you!”

A Real World Example

Shaun Walker’s Story


“I went to Target and bought some of those nasal strips that are supposed to help you breathe better at night. Regardless of the brand, they are usually expensive. The brand I bought seemed promising. However, after using the product for several nights, I became greatly dissatisfied and felt like I had wasted my money. I decided to e-mail the company and air my grievances. I was not malicious, and even said I hoped this was a one-time failure of the product and not a reflection of the product’s true effectiveness. I voiced my concerns without being nasty.

Less than 12 hours later, I received an e-mail from the CEO of the company. Not only did she apologize, she gave a little background as to what might have caused the problem. She even asked me for my address so she could send me a Target gift card to get another one of their products that she believed would work better for me.

I was greatly impressed by her quick response. The company addressed my concerns and performed excellent customer service. Through their actions they turned my perception of the company from negative to highly positive. If only more companies would figure this out, they’d realize how easily they could make consumers more loyal to their brand.”

Memorable story? I think so.

Moral to the story: When you respond to a complaint with empathy, you will help customers breathe easier – now that’s a breath of fresh air.

Strategies to Turn This Around

Be an empathetic listener.

  1. Listen to the customer’s true complaint and see it from his or her perspective.
  2. Repeat what the customer said
  3. Tell the customer what you can do, not what you can’t.
  4. Pay attention to your nonverbal messages—facial expressions, body language.


Remember: Don’t take it personally. Not everything is about you.

“The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions.”

— Don Miguel Ruiz

© 2012 by Barbara Khozam Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this message may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission of the publisher.

Great news! My company and I are honored

Great news! My company and I are honored to have made it into the July-August 2012 edition of 11:11 Magaine. This magazine is created by an amazing woman named Simran Singh and is “Devoted to the Journey of the Soul.” My interview is on pages 46-47. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Check out the latest news on my company.

Check out the latest news on my company. I’m excited about this article. See what you think and vote for me. I need your support.

How Karaoke and Cookies Create Captivated Customers

Real World Example: It was a normal day at the airport, or so I thought. I was flying out of the San Diego airport on my way to Salt Lake City. I was on my way to the gate when I heard music. Loud music. As I looked to see where it was coming from, I saw Southwest Airlines employees handing out cookies and coffee. AND they were making customized, laminated bag tags. I stood in the middle of the walkway trying to figure out what was going on. Finally, I approached one of the employees and asked, “Is this a party or something?” The employee gave me a huge smile and said “Well, yes, we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary. Would you like a complimentary coffee and cookie?” How could I say no.

As I sat in the boarding area drinking my coffee, I couldn’t help but notice all the happy people. The employees were smiling and laughing as they handed out free goodies. Two employees started singing and it didn’t take long before a few passengers started line dancing. Yes, line dancing in the airport. At one point there were 10 happy dancers and many more happy passengers looking on with smiles. What a great way to pass the time. (In fact, I almost missed my flight!)

Suggestion: The next time your company celebrates a milestone, include your employees and customers in the celebration. It’s not only good for your customers, but it’s good for your employees too. And that’s just good for business. Oh, and don’t forget to bring the free cookies!

Southwest, Karaoke, and Line Dancing – VIDEO – click here!

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